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Pedagogical content knowledge is key

LECTURERS at institutes of teachers’ education must spearhead educational change by becoming role models to pre-service teachers, so that the latter are equipped with the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) necessary for them to teach higher-order thinking skills and shape students’ attitudes, Bernama reported Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid as saying recently.

The concept of PCK is not something new. It was emphasised by Lee Shulman (1987), who characterised it as educators’ translations of and changes to a topic’s information, with regards to encouraging student learning.

Among the components of PCK are:

KNOWLEDGE of representations of a subject matter (content knowledge); an understanding of students’ conceptions of the subject, and the learning and teaching implications associated with the subject matter; and, GENERAL pedagogical knowledge, or teaching strategies.

To complete what he called the “knowledge base for teaching”, he included other elements, namely: CURRICULUM knowledge; KNOWLEDGE of educational contexts; and, KNOWLEDGE of the purposes of education.

PCK is also known as “craft knowledge”, which contains the incorporated information of educators’ collected intelligence, with respect to teaching practices — the instructional method, students, subject matter and curriculum that must be addressed.

It is said to be deeply rooted in a teacher’s daily work, and in the experience and assets of students, their families and communities.

It encompasses the theory learned during teachers’ preparations, as well as the experience gained in the relevant activities.

The development of PCK is influenced by factors related to a teacher’s personal background, as well as the context in which he or she works.

When teaching a subject, a teacher’s actions are determined, to a large extent, by the depth of his or her PCK.

This makes it an essential component in all teachers’ ongoing learning.

If we are to improve the quality of teaching and learning in critical core-content areas, we need to resist from practising some “traditions” in professional learning.

We ought to recognise and extend the insight of experts, who are able to boost skills in subject-matter teaching.

Additionally, we should commit to high-quality professional development targeted at developing such expertise.

When we do this, we support the growth of the teacher as a person and a professional, who can expertly lead students to academic success.

Thus, educators are able to contribute to realising the goals and priorities of the classroom and the school system as a whole.


nst_logo-default.jpgAZIZI AHMAD,  Kuala Lumpur NST Home News Opinion Letters You Write 15 September 2016 @ 11:01 AM

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